Middle School Parents, Police At Odds Over Account Of School Bus Disturbance Aftermath

Schools Superintendent Edward Seto was directed by teh Board of Education to inlcude privatizing paraprofessionals in his office's search for budget savings.

Schools Superintendent Edward Seto told a Somerset couple at the Dec. 19 Board of Education meeting that he was not told of a November disturbance on a late bus.

Township police and a Somerset couple are at odds over what happened to several Franklin Middle School students Nov. 21 after their bus driver called police to report some unruly students, and then a replacement driver refused to continue the route.

The parents, B.K. and Michelle Redd, say that their 7th-grade son and two other students were left on the side of Route 27, near Somerset Mews, after a replacement driver left with the bus and other students and police cleared the incident.

But police say that all the students on the bus were accounted for and were taken by parents or guardians before the scene was cleared.

The dispute will be hashed out during a scheduled meeting the week of Jan. 6 among the Redds and representatives from the school district and the police department, district spokeswoman Mary Clark said.

The Redds say that their son and two other students were left to fend for themselves near Somerset Mews, a contention denied by police.

The Redds also say that a Franklin Township police officer who was called to deal with the disturbance used profanity, a charge the police department also denies.

According to the police department’s Computer Aided Dispatch sheet for the incident – a copy of which was provided to the Franklin Reporter & Advocate – police were called shortly before 4:30 p.m. by the bus driver, who reported that some of the students were trying to climb out of the windows and door.

The bus was pulled over on Rt. 27, near Consolata Missionaries, by Officer Lila Madama, according to the dispatch sheet.

There are no details on the sheet of what transpired, and a formal report was never prepared. The dispatch sheet notes that Madama, a 10-year veteran of the force, reported that a new driver responded to take the remaining students home.

The incident was cleared at about 5:05 p.m., according to the sheet.

“At no point and time were any students left on Route 27,” police spokesman Sgt. Philip Rizzo said in an email. “Upon Ofc. Madama’s arrival there were parents were already on scene.  After confirming their identities and the fact that they were indeed a custodial parent of the student, they were allowed to take their child home.”

“That’s not true, that’s an inaccurate statement,” B.K. Redd said. “I picked up my son and another kid who lives in the neighborhood. I drove him right to his mother.”

Redd said that he was at the bus stop, waiting for his son,when his wife called to tell him the bus was running late. She said she called the district’s transportation department, but at first no one knew where the bus was. Michelle Redd was later called by the department and told that the bus driver had stopped the route because of some unruly students and called police.

His son told his mother where he was, and B.K. Redd went to pick him up, they said.

Redd said when he arrived at the spot where his son was waiting, he saw “three kids standing in the dark, no bus and no police.”

Redd’s son – who he declined to name – told his parents that the first bus driver passed his bus stop looking for a place to pull over to deal with the unruly students. That driver refused to continue on the route, and the replacement driver refused to turn around to go to teh stops missed by the first driver, Redd said.

That meant Redd had to travel about a mile up Rt. 27 to pick up his son, he said.

“A thousand things could have gone crazy,” he said.

“There were children who were probably out in an unsafe situation, and that doesn’t need to go on,” Michelle Redd said.

She said that when she called the transportation department to find out what had happened, she was told, “You need to speak to your student.”

The Redds also say they were told that Madama used profanity in dealing with the children.

“All three kids said the police officer was using profanity at them,” B.K. Redd said. “You’re an authority figure, you have a badge. Children typically respond to that without having to raise your voice.”

Rizzo said the department did not receive any complaints of Madama using profanity during the incident.

“At this time we have received no citizen complaints about this incident and there is no internal affairs investigation,” he said in an email.

The Redds also complained at the December school board meeting of the lack of response from the middle school’s principal. B.K. Redd said he was called by a vice principal several days after the incident, and was called by another vice principal several days after that.

The principal, he said, did not call until Dec. 18, 2013.

Schools Superintendent Edward Seto told the Redds at the December meeting that that was the first he’d heard of the incident.

“This did not come to my attention,” he said.

“We just want to make sure that nothing like this happens again,” Michelle Redd said.


Your Thoughts


Please Support Independent Journalism In Franklin Township!

No other media outlet covering Franklin Township brings you the depth of information presented by the Franklin Reporter & Advocate. Period. We are the only truly independent media serving the Eight Villages.

But we can only do that with your support. Please consider a yearly subscription to our online news site; at $37 a year, it’s one of the best investments you can make in our community.

To subscribe, please click here.

Other News From The Eight Villages …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *